Limit EMR Investment Appropriately, but Don’t Skimp

In a recent EMR webninar I attended, I heard some really good counsel that was worth sharing here on my blog:

Limit EMR Investment Appropriately, but Don’t Skimp

When people go into an EMR implementation I’ve seen all sorts of approaches. I’ve seen the phenomenally cheap to the no limits buying. Both of those are recipes for failure.

The problem with the phenomenally cheap is that you’re going to end up not investing in the IT products and software that will make a huge difference in your EMR implementation. For example, you might buy a cheap scanner which 2 months later you realize was a horrible idea since you’ve literally burnt through the scanner and it no longer works. Instead, if you’d spent money on the right scanner (which do feel expensive), you wouldn’t have to worry about getting another scanner for 5-10 years (if even then). (See my EMR scanner suggestions on this page.)

That’s just one example. There are many more. Interestingly, the opposite seems to happen when it comes to EMR software. Doctors will spend insane amounts of money on EMR software. I can’t figure out if doctors just don’t realize that there’s a number of very reasonably priced EMR software out there or if they just think that the more they pay for an EMR the more they’re getting.

I guess you could make the case that when you pay more for an EMR you are getting a more robust software platform. In some cases this is absolutely the case. The problem for small practices is that they don’t need or want a more robust platform. In fact, they end up buying this really robust EMR software platform which is so robust that they don’t have the time, money, or energy that’s required to configure the millions of available options and customizations that would make the software great for their clinic. This leaves them with a generally unusable EMR software and an unhappy user of EMR software.

There’s dozens of other examples where doctors need to find the balance between limiting their EMR investment, but not skimping. This is the art of an EMR selection and implementation.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

7 Comments

  • John… Excellent point. Wonder if the government’s incentive program has artificially set a bar as to what practices are willing to program for EHR sourcing, acquisition, and implementation?

    Failing to appropriately resource a program threatens its succeessful implementation.

    I’ll repeat what I remember your direction from over a year ago when you said that HCOs need to make an EHR decision that makes best business and clinical sense for them without considering a CMS incentive program. (or something similar to that)

  • “I’ll repeat what I remember your direction from over a year ago when you said that HCOs need to make an EHR decision that makes best business and clinical sense for them without considering a CMS incentive program.”

    Yes, I’ve repeated that over and over again on my website. I’m glad to know that at least someone listened;-)

  • Great points. So often MDs don’t really know what they need in an EMR because they don’t know what an EMR is capable of doing. They end up getting either an underpowered solution or overpaying for something with many features they will never use (too much work to customize.) There are also some MDs who are just moving to EMR solutions just for government incentives rather than for the goal of improving patient care.

  • “There are also some MDs who are just moving to EMR solutions just for government incentives rather than for the goal of improving patient care.”

    There are a whole lot of MDs like that. As a Dr. yourself, what do you think of people making that decision?

  • You touched a good point John; always seem to do it. Yes, its a challenge. At the same time, these challenges have been around in other verticals for a long time. And the better way to do is to do the requirements analysis for the practice and find the best fit product that’s out there. There are good products out there and that’s a point we all agree upon.
    Now the question is about the need of resources who can do such business analysis and recommend the best fit product. This has been the practice in other verticals. I do agree healthcare vertical has its own intricacies/peculiar/propreitary requirements. But at the end of the day, business fundamentals are the same including KPIs, UpTime, Fault Tolerance, etc. So, like any other business, business needs analysis is a must before proceeding with the selection of product.
    And there are many good resources/consultants available including informational resources such as your blog. Its a business decision touching all points of the practice; almost like or more important than an ERP. Businesses spend time and effort before the select/embark on SAP or PeopleSoft or Oracle or Great Plains. Its the same process done at the small business level which is the ‘Practice’.

  • Anthony,
    Lest I wasn’t clear above. It’s a challenge, but a far from insurmountable problem. I’d also say it’s a tremendous opportunity for qualified EMR consultants to help doctors navigate the balance between the 2 chasms.

    I’ve heard the reference to EMR being a doctor’s ERP. Although, I’ve never posted about it. Sounds like a good post topic. *wheels turning*

  • Good stuff John. Vendors will, as part of the sales process, naturally wax poetic about the must-have features of their systems. Really great sales consultants will ask a lot of need-based questions to ensure a great match but there are sales people very adept at selling the sizzle on top of the steak.

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